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Once upon a time when Korean BBQ met fine dining, they discovered that they had something special and stuck together. The product of their union was Guhng The Palace, an opulent three storey ‘palace’ located in the middle of the CBD. With Jma in the mood for a Korean meal, and me wanting to experience something different, we decided on Guhng for dinner one Thursday night.
The layout and outfit of the interior was like nothing I had seen before in a restaurant, presenting a harmonious union between the traditional and modern elements. The historic palace-like interior was nailed perfectly with the abundance wooden beams and tones, and exposed stone walls.
Be warned: the powerful waft of Korean BBQ hits you quick and hard as soon as you pull open that palace door. While the sensational aromas had us salivating, a big lunch eaten earlier in the day unfortunately meant that I wasn’t keen on a meat-heavy meal. A return visit is in order… We instead ordered items from the non-Korean BBQ sections of the menu.
Jasmine green tea.
Yuk Hwei - light-seasoned beef sashimi, sliced raw tenderloin with egg yolk, pear, cucumber, sesame oil and Guhng’s signature gal-sal dressing.
Based on its tantalising description, the arrival of the beef sashimi entree was met with much anticipation, but the dish turned out to be quite underwhelming. The beef was soft and overly mooshy, and the meat on its own lacked taste and texture. Be sure to get a little bit of everything with each bite, as the shredded cucumber and pear added some crispy crunch while the sauce provided a rich sesame oil flavour. Immediate inspection of the dish, confirmed by taste, begged the question: where was the egg yolk?!
Pa-jeon - seafood pancake, egg and vegetables.
More egg than pancake, there was a strong egg presence with each bite. I love my eggs, so I thoroughly enjoyed the pancake.
Kimchi hot pot - Korean traditional kimchi soup, with pork and vegetables.
I have not yet encountered a bad-tasting kimchi soup, and the kimchi stew at Guhng was no exception. The soup was rich and full of flavour, tasting similar to a tomato soup with a hearty dose of spice. The kimchi taste in the soup was quite subtle and virtually non-existent, but the real kimchi’ness could be found in the actual kimichi pieces. Still, it was a tasty stew, and the combination of warmth and spicy heat made this dish perfect for the cold weather.
Pan-fried dumplings - filled with soy bean curd, onion, garlic and ginger.
The pan frying process gave rise to some seriously crunchy skin, and the thin texture of the doughy skin was similar to gyoza. Flavours were spot on, with a perfect amount of aromatic ginger punching through the tender soy bean curd and veggie filling. The soy sauce presented with a biting spice.
Bibimbap - warm white rice topped with seasonal vegetables and beef. (Choice of pork or chicken also available)
Ordinary but yummo! I particularly enjoyed the crispy rice found at the bottom of the stone bowl.
Cinnamon crepe - crepe filled with pear compote and Korean cinnamon tea.
With its somewhat thick and floury texture, the crepe was okay, but not the star of the dish. For me, it was the other components that stole the show. The cooked pear pieces in the compote were slightly softer than the fresh version, and still retained some crunch. The crepe sat on a sea of smooth and creamy vanilla custard, and the sweetness from the custard paired perfectly with the cinnamon-spiced pear filling.
Lemon sorbet - with blackberry wine jelly.
Ah, the perfect way to end the meal would be on a refreshing and cleansing note, provided by the lemony sorbet. The texture of the sorbet was not very dense and quite fluffy… like eating flavoured snow! The jam-like jelly added just a little bit more sweetness, but the slight sourness from the blackberry allowed it to blend in with the lemon flavour. The pomegranate seeds took the freshness of the dish to the next level, with bursts of juiciness following some crunch.
It wasn’t a bad meal, but after eyeing the surrounding tables and catching the constant aromas from the Korean BBQ meals partaken by practically all other tables, a return visit to Guhng for their Korean BBQ is a must…
Guhng - The Palace
19 McKillop St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9041 2192